Lefaga through to quarterfinals after entertaining Marist Sevens Day One

TA
By Thomas Airey, 15 February 2019

Lefaga are through to the quarterfinals of the Marist International Sevens Tournament on points difference, with their 26-10 win over SCOPA enough to see them advance as the top team in Pool 8.

They stole the show through the first round of play, with a 26-10 upset win over SCOPA and their three Fijian imports; Pio Tuwai, Nacanieli Batina and Joeli Lutumailagi.

Lefaga coach Onosai So’o said its the first time most of his players have played at this level.

“Lefaga is far away from town, but there is talent.”

He said coming here to showcase it at Marist was good for the players.

“It’s good for the boys to beat this team, who are at a high level.”

He said it would be a huge confidence boost to beat SCOPA, who were top seeds in the pool as quarterfinalists from last year.

They’ll play Fijian flyers Tabadamu at 10:40am today, with the four-time defending Fiji Marist Sevens champions beating last year’s winners Auckland Marist 38-12. Tabadamu coach Jale Melovatu said they knew they were coming up against tough opposition.

“We’ve been preparing for that for the last three weeks, we are not the champions now.”

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He said the team are taking confidence from that win going into Day Two.

Tabadamu feature three former Fiji national team players, and four others that are in the extended squad. The other quarterfinals in the men’s division will be Apia vs Satalo, Vaiala vs Tama Uli Salelologa and Vailele vs Tepatasi.

Tama Uli, the reigning Samoan national champions, defeated Vaimoso 26-5 in the last game of Pool 6 to advance over them.

Vaimoso scored the first try, but the introduction of a Salelologa substitute, current Manu Samoa 7s winger Elisapeta Alofipo made the difference.

He came on just before halftime, and with his first touch sprinted away to score and give Tama Uli a 7-5 lead at the break.

Alofipo said he told the coach to put him on.

“Because I could see my teammates were nervous.”

Alofipo was originally held out of the tournament by Manu Samoa 7s coach Sir Gordon Tietjens, but this plan changed on Thursday.

“[He] told me they changed their mind because I need a game this weekend.”

As he’s been training with the Manu group, Alofipo only got together with his Tama Uli teammates the day before the tournament.

But he said it wasn’t a big adjustment given he has played with them plenty of times before.

He’ll come up against fellow Manu Samoa 7s squad members Alatasi Tupou, Murphy Paulo and Malu Falaniko in the Vaiala game.

TA
By Thomas Airey, 15 February 2019

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